Top tips for sharing accommodation

So, now that I’ve moved out of my student house due to placement, I’ve been thinking of some of the things that make living with others students go more smoothly.

  1. Organise nights in/out (depending on your flatmates). During freshers, you’re overwhelmed with meeting a whole load of new people from all different walks of life. However, there can be nothing worse than shutting yourself in your room and not knowing your flatmates or housemates – because you’ve got to spend a whole year with them! Nobody is saying you have to be best buds with the people you’re living with, as it’s unlikely you’re going to be living with your true bestie (and if you do, that’s great!) but I’ve found that it can be easier to get along when you spend some time chilling with them once every now and again.
  2. Decide who is going to clean what and when. This is less of a problem in halls as you have a cleaner Monday to Friday that cleans any communal areas, including shared bathrooms. Even so, it helps to keep things tidy, and keep your cleaner on side. This can be something as simple as the whole flat/house agreeing that you’ll have a mass clean up every other Saturday, or organising a rota if you’re living in a house, about who cleans what on which days. If everyone is in agreement, then there should be no arguments about it.
  3. Be mindful of other people! Firstly, linking back to my previous point, limit your personal mess to your bedroom, then make sure you clean up after yourself if you’ve made a mess in the communal areas. There’s nothing more frustrating than coming in after a long day and being unable to cook because someone’s used all of the pans and they’re in the sink, so be respectful of others. If it’s going to annoy you if someone else does it, make sure you don’t do it!Be wary of the level of noise you’re making late at night, particularly if you’re living with student nurses or teachers whilst they’re on placement. Nobody is trying to ruin your fun, but a little respect goes a long way!

So there you have it, my top 3 tips for sharing accommodation!

Money Makes the World Go ‘Round: Budgeting for Students

Financial troubles are one of the biggest causes of stress for students and it’s not surprising. Since a lot of students go from living with their parents, not having to pay for much, to fending for themselves and probably having a lot less money than they are used to, they find it a struggle to stick to a budget. I thought I’d share with you a few tips that I’ve found useful in saving and managing money during my time at uni.

Draw up a budget and stick to it

The best way to keep track of how much money you have is to create a budgeting document. This highlights all the ingoing and outgoing money and from that you can work out how much you have spare to spend each week. I find that the most effective way of doing this on a word document but if you’re feeling it you can transfer it to an excel spreadsheet that you can colour code to easily refer back to. I get very excited over spreadsheets…

After you have drawn up a budget the biggest challenge is sticking to it! What I find helps to combat that is to keep track of everything you spend – I do this on the notes app of my phone – and then you won’t have any nasty surprises next time you check your bank balance. It will also prompt you to make smarter choices if you see what you are actually spending all your money on.

Shop smarter

A great way to save money is to try and go for cheaper shops such as Aldi or B&M. Finding cheaper alternatives to things you can afford to scrimp on will save you a lot of money. I tend to do my weekly shop in Aldi for around £15, whereas in first year I was spending nearly £30 a week in Morrisons! It also helps if you plan out your meals for the week and draw up a shopping list from there so you know exactly what you are getting, rather than aimlessly browsing the aisles.

Be harsh

To save money you have to be super harsh with yourself. If money is tight begin to really question whether you need something before spending the money on it – if you get into the habit of assessing the worth of what you buy you will begin to realise what you actually use and what is a waste of money.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

If you find yourself knee deep in your over-draft don’t just suffer in silence, speak to someone who may help you lift yourself out of it. Asking your friends and family for financial help may seem daunting and I don’t entirely recommend it but of you are in a really sticky situation the best thing to do is tell someone and they may be able to give you the help you need, whether that is a loan or some advice. Never go to loans companies above people you trust, it won’t end well!

Carpe Opportunities

University is not just useful for gaining a degree, it offers you support and opportunities to really make your CV stand out and give you a real edge when you graduate. However, it is up to you to take advantage of these opportunities and go out and find them. This can prove a bit difficult to get your head around, believe me, I’ve only just figured out how to make the most of the support I have at uni! So I thought for this week’s post I’d give you some tips on how to look for and take advantage of the wonderful prospects available to you.

Ask your personal tutor

Although universities have a wealth of opportunities you won’t just be handed them on a plate, you often have to express interest. Ask your personal tutor if they know of any work experience or other opportunities that are available for someone studying your degree or your particular area of interest. Once you express an interest in these activities your tutor will be in more of a position to help you.

Visit the careers centre

One of the best ways to find out about what experience you can gain is by visiting the careers centre. Edge Hill’s careers centre is located in the Student Information Centre (SIC). You can book an appointment with one of the career advisers using the careers centre link on the Edge Hill website. They can talk you through what you can do to gain experience and knowledge in your field. They can also help you optimise your CV and answer any other career-based questions you have.

Create your own opportunities

However, there’s nothing stopping you from creating your own opportunities. Want to be a writer? Start a literary magazine. Want to be an entrepreneur? Design a product to sell. Want to work in theatre? Do what my friends and I did and create your own theatre company. Your tutors are there for advice and support so you speak to them about your ideas and perhaps it’s easier than you think it is to do what you want to do.

Until next time! 🙂

Keep Calm and Carry On

It may only be February but the summer will soon be here and with it will come the stress of exams and deadlines. University and school life can be difficult, you could be under a lot of stress and it may become a bit overwhelming at times. There’s no shame in admitting that you let work get on top of you sometimes, we all have those moments. So here are a few tips of how to keep calm during those stressful work periods and they will hopefully have a positive effect on your mental health and performance level.

Do something you enjoy

You may struggle to relax when you have a lot of stressful things to think about but it is important to take time out of your day to do something you really enjoy and find relaxing.
This can be anything from taking a relaxing bath, reading, watching a film or playing video games. Taking a break from your stressful routine to chill out is incredibly important and will help your mind de-fog and restore your motivation so you get more done.

Meditate

I find that using apps like Headspace can help calm you if you’ve had a particularly stressful day. If you take out 10 minutes of your day to meditate it can help improve your mood and performance whilst also helping you stay a lot calmer. I have used this app quite often to help me take back a bit of control and keep myself nice and relaxed. Whether you use it as a one-off or even make a routine of it meditation will help you concentrate when you aren’t feeling your best.

Candles & Scents

It has been scientifically proven that scents can help to improve your mood, perhaps lighting a candle – or using a scent diffuser as a lot of student accommodation forbids the use of candles – will make you feel a lot calmer and will fill the room with your favourite smells making you feel happier whilst you do your work.

 

Go out

If things are starting to become more and more stressful and you’ve been stuck in a stuff room for hours on end take a break – go for a walk or meet up with some friends for an hour or two just to clear your head and then you will be much better. I find this a really effective strategy as when I return I have a renewed motivation and feel ready to tackle the workload.

Until next time! 🙂

Performing Arts Audition Days

Hello all!

It’s around this time of year when the University holds any interviews and auditions for courses. If you have applied for a course within the Performing Arts (click here to see my post on all things Performing Arts!), you will have been asked to attend an audition. I was in this position a year ago, so I thought I’d share my knowledge and experience of the audition days!

The auditions take place so that the teachers can see what skills you have as a performer before making any offers, since the courses are so practical. Although they are looking at skill, if you have never studied a Performing Arts course within your past educational establishments, don’t worry! They understand that people are coming from all sorts of backgrounds and they are mainly looking for people who are eager and participate in the auditions with enthusiasm.

One of the best things about the Performing Arts auditions is that they are very laid back. We all know that auditions and interviews can seem daunting in a place you’re not used to with teachers that you don’t know, and the teachers also know this, so they make sure to keep the pressure off you during the audition. This helps you ease into the audition so that you can do your thing and impress!

There are both current students and staff at the audition days to take you to and from your audition rooms so that you don’t have to worry about getting lost, and they are also there to ensure any questions you may have about the courses or the University itself are answered. If you haven’t managed to make it to an open day for any reason or just didn’t get the chance to do this at any events you’ve attended, there is also the offer of Accommodation, Arts Centre and Campus tours if you or your parents wish to see the facilities! I didn’t manage to make it to an open day because I was busy with college work and didn’t have transport there and back, so I used the audition as an opportunity to speak to current students about Ormskirk, the University and ask for an accommodation tour, which they were perfectly happy to help with.

The general vibe on the audition days is very positive, so once you arrive you can focus on your performance and your performance alone! Depending on which courses you have applied for, you will be sent information on what you need to bring to the audition, what to wear and if you need to learn any songs or monologues. As I was auditioning for the Performing Arts course, when I auditioned I did not have to prepare anything, as the audition was in the form of a workshop rather than everyone taking turn to carry out a monologue, something which I found less nerve-wracking! After my workshop, I was directed to a room where I did a small writing task- something which might sound daunting, but they don’t ask you questions that are hard to answer and they’re mostly just looking for your opinion on the subjects of the questions, so don’t stress about “getting the right answer”! The audition process and workshop for the BA (Hons) Performing Arts course might have changed slightly this year, but that is the kind of thing you can expect to be doing at your audition! If you are doing a course such as the BA (Hons) Musical Theatre course, you will probably have to prepare a song to sing and will be expected to take part in some form of dance workshop. Each course has a different method of auditioning, but whichever course you are doing, you’ll feel relaxed and laid back once you get there, just do the best you can and don’t be scared to take risks and join in with the activities set to you!

If you are attending a Performing Arts audition, I wish you luck!

I hope this blog post has helped you out with your expectations of what happens, and if you have any more questions, feel free to comment below! Good luck!

 

This is what Ellie Clarke had to say about the Performing Arts audition process:

Auditions – how do they work?

Here’s a little bit of information on Applicant Visit Days for if you have applied for a course that isn’t within the Performing Arts written by Ellie Clarke:

What is an applicant visit day?

All things budgeting…

Hello all, I hope you’ve had a good week so far!

One of the things that I’ve had a love-hate relationship with since arriving at Edge Hill in September is money and budgeting. Many students find that this is the first time they are completely reliant on their money source without the help of family- this was definitely the case for me. I had a regular income from local paper rounds, but I didn’t have to pay for my meals whilst at home and I didn’t have rent to pay, which all changed when I arrived.

Now, it might worry some people that they have so much responsibility, but if you breathe and plan out what money you have, you’ll be ok! So, I thought that I’d give you some of the tips I’ve picked up over the past 5 months or so, some I’ve had in my mind since September and some I’ve figured out from making mistakes along the way (something we all do, don’t worry!):

  • Get that calculator out: Once you know how much money you have for each semester, and once you know how much rent you need to be paying (if you’re in halls or renting elsewhere), work out exactly how much money you have a week to spend on food and recreational activities. This makes it a lot easier to make sure you’re spending the right amount of money each week, just don’t get tempted to go over budget!
  • Don’t pay for everything on your card: One of the mistakes I’ve learned from over the past few months… If you’re paying for everything on your card, because transactions take a while to come through with some banks and because it’s easier to forget exactly what you’ve spent that week. I fell into a loop hole of forgetting what I’ve spent, and it just made things harder in November and December. It’s stress that’s easily avoidable by drawing out your week’s money from the bank and only using that money. Physically holding your budget makes you think more about how much you have left to spend and stops people like me who see things they like and think “I need that now!!!”
  • Take every week as they come: Although you might have a set out budget, some weeks you might have a very busy week, and others might be very quiet. This means that you might spend more some weeks than others, and if you go over budget on one week by a little bit, don’t kick yourself about it, because you’ll have weeks when you have spare money! Just don’t get into a habit where you overspend for loads of weeks at a time- take some weeks out to do something that’s either cost free or doesn’t eat away at your budget! And yes, this is especially important when it comes to partying…

So, as long as you are sensible with your spending and keep in mind what exactly your budget is, you’ll be fine! There’s always help available at the University if you do need it, which takes a lot of weight off your shoulders (click this link if you want to read about just what the University offers and some more tips).

If you are wanting to apply for a Student loan, remember to keep checking the website to see when applications begin and get it in on time!

Below I will link some of the past blogs by other students on budgeting, but for now, I hope you have a lovely weekend!

 

Here’s what Ellie Clarke had to say: https://blogs.edgehill.ac.uk/insideedge/2016/08/28/budgeting-2/

Here’s what Beth Rhodes had to say: https://blogs.edgehill.ac.uk/insideedge/2016/07/24/living-on-a-budget/

Here’s what James Hubbard had to say: https://blogs.edgehill.ac.uk/insideedge/2016/02/02/budgeting-student-finance-how-much-will-it-cost/

Be Motivated For Summer

Hi everyone! So it is coming up to summer now and I can imagine a lot of you are considering getting summer placements and summer jobs. Congratulations if you have already achieved one! I mean it can be helpful when it comes to writing your CV’s when you graduate. Something which I have understood from working in different businesses and different sectors is trying to conquer the motivation meltdown within yourself when you have to battle a 9 hour shift on 3 hours sleep. Many of us have been there but here are my tips on how to have a great day at work what ever the weather.

Nothing is more demotivating than working hazardously without having a clear vision, mission and set of objectives for your work. Whether this is at the bar you work at, the house where you’re dog sitting or the restaurant which you’re waiting. Without a clear vision and knowledge of how your work impacts the big picture in which you are motivated to create, you may well end up spending a lot of time on unimportant matters rather than task that urgent task which will impact that big picture. Clarify in no uncertain terms your vision, mission and objectives and focus on them beginning always with the end in mind. It is remarkable what you will achieve once you have zoned in on your precise goals and can focus on them and can visualise yourself achieving them. This method can significantly impact the way in which you tackle assignments when at university or college.

Once you have your vision and goals clarified, develop a detailed strategy for getting there and chart your progress on a regular and ongoing basis. Break down large more difficult tasks into a series of manageable tasks that are interesting and achievable. This will ensure that you are able to get the work done and enjoy it. Put some music on and get motivated. By creating a blueprint for success that is composed of clear, sensible milestones and achievable interesting tasks, this will greatly simplify and lend meaning to your daily routine. As a result will also give you a feeling of control over your work and deadlines which largely boosts motivation. The more organised you are the more you can focus and see your goals be developed into fruition, all from the blue prints in which you have created. The more motivated you will be and the less likely you are to fall into a fit of panic or insecurity and lose confidence and motivation.

The best preparation for tomorrow is doing your best today.

H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Finally my suggestion to you to ensure you are motivated in work is to dress to impress. I don’t suggest that you should go and buy a new £3000 Armani suite (Despite them looking amazing) however make the effort to ensure you feel great. Get those new shoes, wear your hair differently, mix things up and see your day change from that gruelling 9 hour shift to a more motivated, positive and foremost, productive.

I hope these tips have been of some help to you and for those who are applying for your summer placements and jobs, I wish you the very best of luck. You’ve got this!

Making Your Decision…

If you haven’t already received feedback from the universities you have applied to, you’ll be hearing back very shortly I can assure you. But what happens when you’ve been given your offers? It’s time to make some very important decisions, that’s what! Here are my top 3 factors to consider when making your decision.

  1. The Programme You’ve Applied For: Do your research. For each individual university, pull the subject/profession apart, delving deep into module topics, forms of assessment, work experience opportunities, employability rates and facilities supporting this specific subject area etc. Just because a university is in the top 10 doesn’t mean that for the area you wish to study is rated just as proudly. If you’re certain on what you want to study, focus on the quality, ranking and feedback for that specific major rather than the university itself. You need to most importantly choose a course that best fits around you! Often, you may find a university of a less competitive nature may very well have a more suited programme for yourself, working in your favour!
  2. Location: You’re going to be living here for the next few years of your life. Moving to university is such a large and life changing step as you begin to explore the new and unknown. So you want to make sure that wherever you choose, you’re going to feel most comfortable and happy. At the end of the day, you’re going to be living here, not just visiting (unfortunately)! You need to ensure that the location benefits you, granting you access to facilities you ‘wont be able to live without’. If you’re not happy in your environment, you’re not going to study well. Edge Hill may not exactly be in a well-known location, but this wasn’t a problem as I’m only 30 minutes away by train to Liverpool or Manchester if I fancy a day out!
  3. Size & Type of University: For me, Edge Hill slaughtered all other chances opposing universities had at this one. Universities range from those sprawled  across vast cities, to those tucked away on one ground, all in close-knit. Social atmosphere can also conflict with this one. You’ll know what you will feel most comfortable with once having visited the university for yourself. You’ll know straight away if you’re apprehensive or ready to pack your bags and move in. But it’s certainly something to consider! I mean hey, look at me. I’m able to wake up 10 minutes before a lecture, make myself look presentable and still make it to my seminar a little early. Think of convenience and perhaps wasn’t doesn’t feel quite so daunting for yourself.

Trust me, when considering these important facts when comparing between your options, you’ll just know which university is right for you!

Interview Mayhem

There are so many deceiving misconceptions with regards to interviews. The general assumption and expectation is that you’ll arrive, check the clock every few seconds – counting down the moments until it’s your turn, breathe in, breathe out and then most likely have a panic attack, go home feeling doubtful and then possibly cry a little over your likely failure at such a large opportunity.

Wait… what? That’s not how it goes?

Of course not!

Firstly, understand that if the university wasn’t interested in you in the first place, you wouldn’t have even been called to interview! duh. You’re already a star in the sky, this is your opportunity to prove just how worthy you are, and just how great of a decision they’re going to make when they decide to take you on (which they obviously will because you’re clearly amazing). Numbers drop substantially when you consider all of those that firstly apply, get accepted for interviews, and then actually get a place. So if you’ve received invitation to an interview, stop reading for a moment and give yourself a pat on the back.

Next, seize this opportunity. Make sure you’re dressed appropriately and are organised. When considering the ‘grading criteria’ during an interview, both of these play a vital part and are nearly just as important as what you’re about to ramble on about to your interviewer.

The person interviewing you isn’t going to be half as critical as you think. They’re here to support and make sure they see the best within you. They understand and know you’re going to be nervous! It’s likely that more than half the applicants attending an interview day probably haven’t even endured an interview before in their lives – they know this! They’ll never base their assumption of you on your nerves. It’s normal, often uncontrollable and hey, quite frankly a natural occurrence considering the situation you’ve been put in. I promise they wont base their assumption of you on this.

It’s likely, like I did – you’ll receive an interview day guidance booklet (super helpful, make sure you give it a good read!). It will inform you of such things like the day’s general outlines, what to bring with you, when you’ll get your answer, what to do on arrival, how the interview will run and just generally really useful information.

For me, the BA(Hons) Primary Education course with QTS consisted of knowledge tests (Maths, English & Science), and me having to bring in a child’s book, discussing it generally e.g positives/negatives, why I chose it, how I could incorporate it into my lessons and the children’s learning. Then followed by a few scenario based questions which they weren’t expecting perfect answers for. Like any human, I struggled with a lot of these! My interviewer was super helpful, he either knew where I was coming from and would use further questioning techniques to help me speak my ideas out a little better. Sometimes he’d even answer with me! Sharing his ideas to promote mine. This helped trigger in-depth discussions which I felt really helped him see where I was coming from of which perhaps the questions alone wouldn’t have allowed me to speak about. My interviewer felt like more of a newly found friend than someone testing me. And with there being multiple other applicants having their interviews spread around the room, there was no deadly silence, just a pleasant smile to greet me which never seemed to leave his face.

Long story short, if you’ve got an interview coming up, I’m almost certain you’ll do great! I wish you all the best of luck.

 

Tips for Starting at Edge Hill University

Somehow, crazily enough, I am already A WHOLE 6 MONTHS into university. Boy has it flown by swipes forehead. However, I can now say that I’m officially settled into my newfound routine and day-by-day learning that the daunting and chaotic journey I have decided to embark on is actually one of the most wonderfully exciting chapters of my life in which I am yet to experience. I want to try my best to pass forward this newly established knowledge onto yourselves and encourage you to feel enthusiastic about starting university too!

  • Don’t over-pack and over-buy! – There’s always this enormous rush from the word of “GO!” to buy everything each and every online list has to recommend for you. DON’T GO OVERBOARD. Otherwise, like me, you’ll find yourself over cumbered with items that are still hidden in the back of your cupboard while day-by-day you’re still using other people’s oven mittens, selecting from a range of colours and styles stacked up on the top of the microwave. Pack and buy less than what you think you’ll need, this way, you’ll be spot on. I know IKEA can be overwhelming with amazing household objects you never thought you’d crave to own so badly, but I promise you, you’ll be better off if you put the item back down and walk away.
  • Budget – It’s super difficult not to imagine all the glorious items you could spend your student finance on once it arrives in your vulnerable student account, but throw those ideas out of your head right now and try to think logically about this. Either purchase a notebook or even make a note on your phone and simply write down each weeks budget and take note of your spending’s to keep on track so you aren’t left weeping away your sorrows with the globe; making tweets about your newfound poverty.
  • Don’t spend all your money on alcohol – You’d think this would be obvious, but freshers’ week and upcoming student events at the SU bar will get the better of you! I don’t drink, so I’m winning on this one.
  • You don’t have to buy every textbook. When you arrive at uni, it is very likely that (like me) you’ll be given a reading list and told to buy every textbook on the list, or at least two or three, but don’t fall into the trap! You’ll end up spending a lot of money on something that you’re going to read once. I wound up ordering 3 books which came to a pricey total of almost £80! One of them is even still wrapped up in its packaging… shh. Edge Hill’s library has EVERY book you will ever possibly need! If by some small chance, you can’t find that all important book you need, you have the opportunity to request for it – it should be available to you in no time! Paperbacks, hardbacks and e-books are all readily available in vast quantities!
  • Get to know your way around. Getting to know your way around will make you feel a lot more at ease! Take a trip into town with some new friends, the Edge Hill bus comes every 15 minutes and is free to use to students! Or, you’re only a 10 minute walk from exciting Ormskirk. Walk to your lectures with your course-mates! You’ll probably still get lost, but hey, you’ll get used to it in no time!
  • Join clubs and societies. There are so many that Edge Hill has to offer! There’s even a Scooby-Doo society for crying out loud. Got an interest and there isn’t a society that takes your fancy? Start one up, it’s simple enough!
  • Buy an NUS card. NUS cards only cost £12 each (for 12 months). You can use them near enough everywhere, you’ll get your money back in savings within a few days, especially if like me you’re an avid shopper, I can assure you! They’re even available for immediate purchase in the SU shop on campus.

It’s all going to be okay.